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17 January 2015

Painters using photographs as derivatives

In July 2014, I found that a UK "painter" was using several of my images as derivatives for his paintings.  Prior to this and several years earlier, he had contacted me via my website asking permission to use my work for "study" or personal use. My response was that he could BUT as soon as it became a commercial project, he must contact me for a license.  In July I found derivatives of my work on his website where he was flogging off the "originals" for 2,000 quid and prints at 85 quid.  He also exhibited the derivatives at various galleries in the UK.  My email to his website bounced so I then contacted a journo at the newspaper where he had an article on his prize winning entry in a comp - guess what, it was a derivative of my work!  The journalist interviewed him and he told the reporter that he had asked permission but had "forgotten" about the condition regarding commercial use.  Yeah, right!

I eventually got a response when I left a message on his FB page (amongst his adoring fans) and long story short, he removed all of the work from his website and when I pointed out that there were other photographers who would not take kindly of him using their images  without permission, he removed his whole site.  His paintings included Clint Eastwood, Bishop Tutu, Amy Winehouse (as well as six of my Australian aboriginal images).  Did all of these celebs sit for him? Of course not.  As an experiment, I took one of his images into Photoshop and then took my image with exact size as a layer and guess what, they matched entirely.  Every hair, every wrinkle was in the exact same position.  For him to state that he paints free hand is absolute nonsense.  I am assuming that he projects photographs after having the image copied on to clear plastic or acetate and projecting it on to a form of media, being canvas or whatever and it becomes a "paint by numbers" exercise.  This, of course, is not new. Painters using photographs as derivatives has been around a long time.  You only have to take a look at Fine Art America to see the evidence of this.  

I also question why galleries allow exhibitions of "painters" knowing that they are derivatives, many of which are illegal unless the painter has the written permission of the photographer.   

Under UK law, painters must obtain the written permission of a photographer BEFORE they can use the image as a derivative for their painting.  Also there must be attribution that the original was a photograph and with the photographer's name.  This did not happen in my case.  There was no attribution at all on his website.  Nor was there anything on his Deviant Art website or any other website where he had my work.  I am checking out the UK Small Claims Court and am getting advice from a UK IP attorney as to what my next move should be.  

1 comment:

  1. That was really a tacky thing for him to do. I mean, as an artist myself, I've used photos as general references for drawings and paintings. But exact copying just seems counter to the whole point of doing artwork in the first place. Of course, lately I've taken an interest in abstract art so working from a photo is less of an issue. I hope you get things worked out to your satisfaction.


After Topaz

Using Topaz Spicify, the image has been enhanced in both colour and "pop". This may be a tad OTT but when printed out, it looks rather good (even if I say so myself!!).

Elderly gents

Image enhancing filters

I have recently been experimenting with different filters for post processing images. Topaz has been one of them. Using the adjust filter, one can change rather dramatically an image which may (or may not) need enhancing. Purists argue that one should not enhance or change an image but in this era, we are bombarded with enhanced movies so it seems a natural progression to enhance still images. The pic directly above is the original image (shot RAW and converted using Adobe Camera RAW).

Rather boring shot of Sydney Harbour

I am going to show how a somewhat boring shot of Sydney Harbour (if there ever could be one!) can be turned into something a little more spectacular. Below is the original shot (shot in RAW format with my Canon 5D) and taken off the back of the Manly ferry.

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour
Rather boring shot of Sydney Harbour


Using Adobe Camera Raw ("ACR"), I converted the raw image with parameters: Blacks 7, brightness +31, Contrast +61, Clarity +77, Vibrance +7, Saturation 72 and a bit of Curves which brought me to the below image.



Flood filter conversion

I then produced a "reflection" using Flaming Pear flood filter. For those unfamiliar with this filter, it gives the image a perception of a reflection (poetical!) and I see it often in publications and I find myself examining ALL images with reflections to see if the photographer had used this very handy filter. I have details of the conversion if anyone is interested but to post it would be a tad boring. Flaming pair flood filters can be found here


Sydney Harbour reflection using flood filter

Sea of Hats

I was on my lunch hour when I was strolling around The Rocks area of Sydney when I saw a group of private schoolgirls on an excursion. As soon as I saw their hats, I knew that there was a good opportunity to get a good snap. As luck would have it, they started to cross the street to where I was standing. I knew in my head the image I was looking for and I had to be above them. With an enormous amount of good fortune, a ramp up to a shop in this old area of Sydney was a few metres away. I raced up the ramp and shot this image. It was taken with my Canon 70-200 f/4L at f/5.6 which gave me a shallow depth of field leaving the centre hat in sharp focus and the rest of the hats out of focus. I submitted this image in late 2005 to the Black and White Spider Awards and it won Outstanding Achievement - People and also won me the Photographer of the Year 2005 - amateur. It really is nice to get recognition of one's work and even though I am now a professional, it still gives me a warm feeling when I look at my certificate!

Sulphur crested cockatoo in flight

This is an image on which I have added a "flood" filter. It is quite effective and quite a nice shot in any event. Flood filters can be found here and they are worth every cent. There is always a debate regarding "Photoshopping" images but as long as one is honest about the origin and digital changes to the image, I think its legimate. The original image, taken in our garden, of the cockatoo actually landing on the lawn, had a piece of its left hand side wing missing so I "replaced" it in Photoshop CS4. Cockatoos actually dislike water and when they start attacking the timber balustrades on our verandah, all I have to do is get out the spray bottle and walk towards them. They are endearing creatures, very intelligent but are enormously destructive. They are very long lived (up to 80 years) so don't even think of buying one unless you plan to outlive it and put up with the high decibels of squawking! I really hate seeing them in cages and they must long to be free when they see a large flock passing by.

Surfing the storm

Late one afternoon, I was snapping at Avalon Beach, Sydney, when a storm approached. This did not stop a late surfer. This image is available as a print via my RedBubble site. Click on image which will take you to the print site.

Sydney Opera House abstract

An abstract look at the famous icon. It is very difficult to take any pics of the Opera House as everyone and their brother has done it before. For this particular image, I used Optikvervlabs filter.

Leopard seal

I took this shot of a leopard seal exhaling bubbles at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. This is, apparently, one of the few leopard seals in captivity. Apparently it was found injured awhile back and is happy in its huge enclosure at the Zoo along with its mate. Through a stock library, this image is to appear as a full page in a textbook.


A portrait of an elderly lady
This is one of my favourite images of Alice, an elderly aboriginal lady who sadly is now deceased. I would occasionally see her at Circular Quay in Sydney and she would often smile at me. I used a Dragan filter to bring out more texture to the image. I am often asked if I have ever been challenged when photographing candid subjects. Only on one occasion, I was asked not to take a photograph of a female street performer which was odd as that is where they often make their money. So, of course, I acceded to her wishes. Many buskers or street performers expect payment for taking their photograph and its something I always do as its their living, as taking photographs is mine. One of my most popular galleries on my website is one of Sydney Aborigines and I have many kind comments on my work. I did have one person, a Sydney academic, who actually called me a thief as she was under the erroneous impression that I was selling images of these colourful folk without payment which in fact is not true. I have model releases from many and I have made subsequent payments to them.

The smoker

The smoker
An elderly man puffs on a cigarette

Mudda Mudda

Mudda Mudda
My favourite subject
Mudda Mudda (aka Cedric) is an aboriginal busker who is often found at Circular Quay, in Sydney, accompanying other aboriginal buskers. He has such a great face and this image won me a UK award last year for traditional portraiture here